Published in MuddyUm on 31 May

Naked and smeared in mud, we need rescuing

Approaching Day 50 of lock-down, I am forced to admit that my Utopian vision of how our family would conduct ourselves during the pandemic is in ribbons.

At the beginning, our aspirations for what we would achieve were lofty, indeed in hindsight, ridiculous.

We believed that away from the pressures of commuting, holding down jobs and suffering society that we would blossom instead we have positively wilted.

We started well, that first night is like a dream now. We played Trivial Pursuit. We ate homemade Shepherd’s Pie and home baked apple pie. We looked across at one another in the Swiss Family Robinson candlelight. We were going to improve as people. We shared things we were going to achieve.

Little Ernie was going to learn sign language. Frankie the violin. Bonnie was going to run 5km in under 20 minutes. Matilda was going to grow vegetables. My wife Rebecca, was going to learn German, and I, well I was going to do it all — write the Great American Novel, get a six-pack and clean my office. Even Grammy Jenkins was going to do more, knitting a jumper for our dog, Muddy Waters.

Day 2

It started well. I watched Bonnie sprinting out the drive past Matilda hoeing her vegetable patch while listening to Frankie scraping his little fiddle. Little Ernie sat in the kitchen signing, Rebecca practiced her German in our living room while Grammy Jenkins knitted with gusto. We met for meals comparing how our skills were developing and unanimously agreeing how better life is in a pandemic.

Day 7

There were ominous signs. Nobody except myself and Grammy Jenkins were adhering to the 7 am family breakfast of fruit and muesli. People drifted down from 9 am to midday, savaging pancakes with maple syrup, breakfast burritos and blueberry muffins.

Day 10

Ernie beat up Frankie with his own violin. He claimed temporary insanity from the screeching sounds of the fiddle. At least that is what I think he claimed, he refuses to speak, he just signs while glaring at us with childlike hatred.

Day 13

Frankie dug up Matilda’s vegetables because she broke his fiddle. Matilda barricaded herself in her room, refusing everything except three meals a day and snacks every hour. She has placed tinfoil on her windows. Frankie sellotaped his fiddle, we hear her screeching at him through the wall.

Day 18

Grammy Jenkins raped the drinks cabinet. Drunk on a heady cocktail of gin, rum and Kahlua, she broke her cocoon, took the car and drove to her hair salon. She was arrested at the scene.

Day 20

My wife refuses to speak English anymore. She converses only in German now. She spends her days watching black and white movies, shouting at the screen in demented delight.

Day 23

Ernie and Frankie refuse to wash, dress or act like human beings. They spend their days eating peanut butter and Cheetos sandwiches, farting and playing Fortnite on a loop.

Day 27

Bonnie went running today and never returned. I was beside myself. She rang later from her friend Randy’s place. She lives with him now.

Day 30

Matilda called a family meeting. She warned us that the pandemic was a cover for a pending alien invasion. She told us that Bonnie had been abducted by them. She begged us to all move into the basement.

Day 33

Grammy Jenkins’ knitting looks more like a hangman’s noose than a jumper.

Day 37

Nobody cleans up anymore. Matilda sleeps in the garden to protect her vegetable patch from drunken and demented Grammy Jenkins. Ernie and Frankie have installed a rogue state in our living room, sleeping in shifts to protect their fiefdom and the TV. Rebecca stays in bed all day shouting orders at me in German.

Day 42

Bonnie returned today with tales of dystopia and anarchy. She told us that the outside world looks like Mad Max. She beseeched us to procure guns.

Day 47

In the middle of the night Frankie and Ernie lit a fire on the kitchen floor and cooked pork chops over it. I found them dancing and chanting around the fire, naked and smeared in mud.

Day 50

We have descended into the arena of the unwell. We are Lord of the Flies. I do not have a six pack. I did not write a word of the Great American Novel. However all is not lost, I managed to clean my office.

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